Gretsch Drums

Gretsch drums are manufactured by the Gretsch company, which was started by Friedrich Gretsch who, in 1872, immigrated to the United States from Germany. Friedrich Gretsch started a musical instrument company in Brooklyn, New York, in 1883, but died only a few years later. His teenage son then took over the company in the 1890s. Gretsch’s headquarters was located in Brooklyn until it were moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1972.

In the late 1920s, Gretsch drums were the first to feature shells made of plywood, which consists of wooden sheets glued together with the grains of adjacent layers arranged at at a wide angle. In the early 1940s Gretsch innovated shell construction once more by staggering the plywood sheets, so that they did not all come together at the same spot. This eliminated the single seam where the edges of the rounded wood came together, made the shells stronger, hence eliminated the need for supporting glue rings. At first, Gretsch manufactured its shells from three-ply wood, but later moved to four, and finally settled on six plies in the 1960s, but keeping the thickness of the plies constant throughout. Gretsch’s innovation in shell construction and fine craftsmanship propelled it into the forefront of the drum industry after World War II. Because of their great craftsmanship and design, Gretsch drums gained a reputation for superior sound.

But, in 1967, Gretsch was sold to the Baldwin musical instrument company, and its name lost some of its prestige. In the hands of Baldwin, the Gretsch manufacturing operations were relocated to Booneville, Arkansas, in 1970, and then, beginning in 1981, to various other Baldwin sites in Arkansas.

The Baldwin company went bankrupt in 1983, and Gretsch operations came back under family ownership in 1985, and were relocated once more, this time to Savannah, Georgia.

In the 1980s Gretsch hardware remained unchanged and became somewhat outdated, but endorsements from prominent artists perpetuated the Gretsch name and reputation.


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